"Ronald, I look absolutely horrid in orange!"
Hermione didn't get it. Not one bit. By Merlin's grace I'd been able to secure two tickets in the visiting supporters' section for the upcoming Falmouth tilt. And not the namby-pamby supporters, either. No. We were going to stand with the 'Firing Squad', the truly mental ones that sing and jump up and down until the snitch is caught. Of course, you do have to be that mental to have supported Chudley for so long and with such ferocity. No matter; these are my kindred spirits and brothers-in-arms, and I was going to get good and stupid with them, and we were all going to get our heads beat in together. Falmouth's front office, you see, are just as brutal as their team, and put the visiting ultras next to the home-side's mental cases. Muggle-dueling not being my forte, I had a bad feeling about the outcome should we manage to eek out a loss of less than 90 points – the current line on the match. With Falmouth fighting for a spot in European competition for the following year, an out and out victory was going to be a tall task indeed, so the Squad had been coming up with various off-color chants based around Falmouth supporters' questionable lineage and their ability to support their illegitimate children should we beat the point spread.
Regardless, we were going to the match. It was my Christmas present from Hermione – all I had to do was name the time and place, and she would come with me to a Quidditch match. And then she appeared in our living room wearing grey. Grey! The home kit of the Falcons themselves was grey. We'd be plucked apart standing in a sea (okay, a puddle) of brilliant Orange and Black with her slimy grey sweatshirt. So I offered her one of my older Chudley kits. She proceeded to hand me some nonsense about stretching the jersey out, which was quickly followed by the outburst above. She didn't get it. At all. So I was going to have to explain things to her.
"Hermione, you can't say that. You're my girl, you have to love Orange."
"Ronald, sometimes you make even less sense than usual. Can we just get into the floo now?"
"Not until you hear me out. Hermione, this isn't any game we're going to see; this is Quidditch – "
"I'm quite familiar with – " My patience was at an end.
"I said, hear me out, woman. Now, if I may continue. Do you really think I would get this worked up over some children's game? This is Quidditch, a game for wizards and witches, not that tarted-up hopscotch we were forced to play at Hogwarts. Quidditch has been played in this country for centuries, and all-time, the ratio of broken bones to matches played is somewhere around ten to one. Now, I know you've read Quidditch Through the Ages and Flying With the Cannons, but you're not going to understand why you need to embrace Orange through books. But you are the brightest witch of our age, so let me ask you a few questions. Do you know who we're playing today?"
"We're not playing anyone, Ron. But the --"
"Save it, you insufferable know-it-all prat. Who are we playing today?"
"Falmouth," Hermione answered quietly.
"Very good. And what are Falmouth's colors?"
"Grey and white"
"Yes. And why don't I want you to wear grey to the match?"
"Because they're the opposing team's colors?"
"No. Because they're the enemy's colors." Hermione paused for a moment. I hadn't smiled, hadn't blinked, had barely breathed as I said this last bit with as much gravity as a twenty-year-old could muster. As what I had said dawned on her, she looked completely taken aback, nearly disgusted by my statement's implications.
"Ronald Weasley. Haven't we had enough of enemies for one lifetime? Why go making new enemies where we don't have to?"
"Because, Hermione; In 1573, Falmouth seeker William Stainguard grabbed one of his beaters' bats to bash in the head of Chudley seeker John Mayberry just as his hand was on the snitch. In 1845, Falmouth supporters burned the Chudley pitch to the ground. To the ground! In 1963, the Broadmoor brothers single-handedly forced a forfeiture by incapacitating each and every one of our flyers. In 1972 it was Falmouth that pipped us by 10 points in the final match of the season to dash our European dreams, thus beginning our descent down the table. In 1988, Falmouth supporters ransacked the Chudley changing room during an away match, undoubtedly with their front office's blessing. And just last year, Falmouth waited to have an 850-point lead on us before their seeker caught the snitch just so they could beat us by an even thousand. The nerve! So Hermione, when I say Falmouth are our enemies, it's because they've declared war."
"War? Ronald, we've just fought a war, and I don't remember a quaffle being involved."
"I remember. It was over some git named MouldyShorts trying to remake the world in his twisted pureblood fantasy. Harry kicked his ruddy arse back to the nine hells. But that wasn't nearly as important as Quidditch."
"Ron, have you lost your mind? That war stole our childhoods, and those thugs murdered your brother! How can you say that's not important?"
"I didn't say that it wasn't important. It just wasn't as important as Quidditch. That war was about ideas. Quidditch is here and now; it's as immediate as a bludger, and as fleeting as the flight of the snitch. It's savagery and grace all in one. It's -- "
"It's a game, Ronald."
"Perhaps, love. But we fought that war for the sole purpose of our children and grandchildren having nothing more important to do with our lives than squabble over Quidditch. Now, please put on my old kit like I've asked, if for no other reason than we're both still so dreadfully famous, and there may well be cameras at the match."
"If you say so," Hermione huffed defeated, and went into the bedroom to change.
The match was closer than anticipated, and we wound up only losing by forty points, causing mass dejection amongst the Falmouth yobs who lost their rent payment to the bookmakers. A line of Aurors had been stationed between the two supporters' groups, so there was no blood shed in the stands. Things got much more interesting, though, as the flyers were taking their last few laps around the pitch. The Cannons flew over to the Firing Squad's section, and Galvin Gudgeon himself presented me with the match snitch. The crowd, seeing that it was Hermione and I, began to stand and applaud, thanking us for what we'd done in the war. That was all well and good, but it was not why Gudgeon flew over.
I tapped the snitch with my wand thrice. It opened, revealing a sparkling platinum ring with a large sapphire. I got down on one knee, but Hermione had already said "yes" before my knee hit the ground. As she hugged the life out of me, the crowd's applause became a roar, but I didn't notice anything other than the tears in her eyes.
And that, Teddy, is how I managed to be able to watch a Cannons' match any time I like.